'Social institutions need change for gender equality'

Last Updated: Wed, Apr 23, 2014 17:50 hrs

New Delhi, April 23 (IANS) Gender equality can be achieved in society only when people get rid of exaggerated, traditional age-old norms in a patriarchal system and enforce strict law, noted sociologist Dipankar Gupta said here Wednesday.

Talking at a session "Men's Attitudes: Where Do They Come From", Gupta pointed out how inequality was deeply-rooted in our system and how social institutions are adding fuel to the fire.

"One of the social norms that is extremely exaggerated in our society is the highly valued Hindu system of 'kanyadaan'. I think this is the worst possible thing to do with a woman's dignity and it in a way creates imbalanced equation between the father and in-laws of the girl," Gupta said at the conference "The Catalyst Conference: Igniting Leadership to End Sexual Violence".

"The other bane is the idea of joint family which basically is a 'gang of men' and role of women in this place comes across as insecure," he added.

Amid this obscurity, Gupta mentioned how urbanisation has helped to develop a crack in this concrete system that is laid on the foundation of ideologies where women don't have an important role to play.

"What has happened with urbanisation is that women have become more independent. They are living in nuclear families where they too have an equal role to play. This has also created a situation where you (family) don't get to choose your son or daughter-in-law, as many cross-cultural marriages are taking place," he said.

"Hence the concept of 'kanyadaan' is diminishing, and such cultural exchanges are tampering institutions saddled within our society," he added.

While these changes are happening, Gupta also felt a stronger and powerful law enforcement would also pave way for equality where more cases of sexual bias and gender equality are reported and addressed to.

He also mentioned how giving women equal inheritance rights would make them more secure and earn them respect in the family.

"If she gets property rights, she will automatically get respect. She will be more secure and men will also respect her," he concluded.

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